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July 09, 2012

Abbas says he wants peace

(UPI/Debbie Hill)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (UPI) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians will renew efforts to gain statehood recognition at the United Nations if peace talks with Israel fail.

In an exclusive interview on Israel's television Channel 2 Saturday evening, Abbas said while negotiations with Israel are his "first and second option," if the sides fail to resume peace talks, then he will pursue a "third option" and renew efforts to gain U.N. recognition for a Palestinian state.

After saying the Palestinians have no preconditions to resume peace talks with Israel, Abbas then stated two conditions Israel must fulfill -- the release of 123 Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israel before the Oslo process began and a complete halt to all settlement activity.

Abbas said he ruled out the possibility of another "armed intifada" (violent popular uprising) occurring even if peace efforts fail. When asked if he feared Hamas may win in the next elections taking into account the rise of Islamist movements in the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Abbas said: "If that is the will of the people, I will accept it."

In response to the interview, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office released a statement saying:"Until now, Abbas has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Even after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made unprecedented steps, such as freezing construction in the settlements, Abbas kept on refusing to hold talks. Even now, Prime Minister Netanyahu calls upon President Abbas to meet soon in order to promote the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians."

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